Four children swathed in white tulle sit on the roof of a concrete construction somewhere in the remoteness of South Wales Valleys. Surrounded by bleak brick buildings, they strut in pistachio green floppy faux-fur hats and larger-than-life coats. Sporting red from top-to-toe and teased hair, they’re looking ever so sassy at the social club Valentine’s disco. These kids are teaching us what fashion is really about.
Nia (Valentine Disco Party), Gurnos 2018 © Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James
A collaboration between photographer Clementine Schneidermann, stylist and creative director Charlotte James, and young children from the South Wales Valleys, the photographic exhibition It’s Called Ffasiwn unveils at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol on March 27.
The body of work features local children in fashion costumes against muted backdrops of the deindustrialised South Wales Valleys, from faded facades and beaches to local streets and bingo halls. Combining social documentary with landscape, fashion photography and portraiture, the immersive body of work is the antithesis to the stereotypical representation of working-class imagery; it’s playful, colourful and quirky.
“We wanted to make [the work] colourful, a step away from how children have been represented in this sort of post-industrial environment,” Schneidermann tells The Guardian.
It's Called Fashion (Look it Up), Merthyr Tydfil, 2016 © Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James
James and Schneidermann, the creative duo known as Bleakfabulous on Instagram, began organising interactive workshops for local children in November of 2015, introducing them to new skills within the realm of styling, customisation and photography.
“I was once a kid from the area. There isn’t easy access to culture. Young people aren’t encouraged to look to the creative industries as a career. I hope the workshops can spark something and encourage creative practice to grow out of small towns,” James tells The Guardian.
Summer Street Party, Merthyr Vale, 2018 © Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James
In the beginning of February, three prints from the project were exhibited at the ‘Women in Focus’ show at the National Museum of Wales, and are now become part of the museum’s permanent collection. This month sees a selection of photographs from the three-year-long collaboration unveil at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol, together with an accompanying zine.
It’s Called Ffasiwn will be on display at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol between March 27 and May 25.